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After vandals hit Ely's veterans memorial, a MN business steps in to help

5 trees that were cut and pulled down were part of a memorial to Ely veterans.

For the people of Ely and those who care about the northern Minnesota town's new veterans memorial, Monday was a day of emotional ups and downs. Or a down and up, you might say.

First came the morning discovery that five young trees planted at the memorial last fall had been destroyed by vandals overnight.

The owner of Ely Flower and Seed had planted the crabapple trees after the group Friends of the Trees of Ely raised the money to buy them, according to a Facebook post that called Sunday night's incident a "disgusting act of intentional vandalism."

But occasionally when something bad happens, something good grows out of it.

As more people saw the Facebook post from Ely Flower and Seed, some left comments offering to donate money toward replacing the trees. Then a member of the family that operates Baily Nurseries, which sold the crabapple trees to Ely, wrote to the Flower and Seed business: "I'd be happy to replace them for you. Please feel free to email me..."

By late afternoon there was a follow-up post from the Flower and Seed owner, who'd traveled to Bailey Nurseries in St. Paul.

He wrote that Bailey was replacing the five vandalized trees with 15 new ones "with pink, white, and red flowers way bigger than what was planted." He thanked those at the nursery for loading up his truck and said the new trees will be heading up to Ely on Tuesday.

Memorial not finished yet

According to KBJR, the money pledged to replace the destroyed trees will now be put toward completing the veterans memorial.

A fundraising page for the Ely Area Veterans Memorial was started by Dick Zahn, who says he's been working on getting the memorial built since he retired in 1972. The memorial honors Ely's veterans of all U.S. conflicts dating back to World War I.

Friends of the Trees of Ely says two of their other trees were also vandalized last month.

A special city council meeting was scheduled for Thursday to discuss the vandalism, KBJR says. Anyone with information can contact the Ely Police Department at 218-266-5477.

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